After the maintenance completed on September 17th 2013 I opened up Diablo 3 to play for a couple of hours to kill some time. I noticed that a new announcement appeared at opening splash screen.
It simply stated that there was an update to the auction house. I eagerly clicked on the icon and was immediately redirected to a D3 blog post that tells the players that Blizzard will be completely removing the gold and RMAH from the game on March 18, 2014.
Within minutes of the blog entry being posted the Diablo forums exploded with player reactions! Most of the players were thanking Blizzard for finally removing the controversial auction house, while others were wondering how the economy will be affected, and if they will have to return to the old barter method from Diablo 2. Some players are pinning their hopes on Loot 2.0, which will supposedly give players better loot and there won’t be as much of a need for trading items. A small fraction of player-base voiced their disappointment over the news. I’m sure the players that were most disappointed are the flippers who watch the auction house for great deals, buy them up, and resell them at a marked up price.
It is too early to tell how this will affect 3rd party sellers and their habits. If the fabled Loot 2.0 system is really so good that players will no longer need an auction house, then I can see many of them moving on to another game. Removing the AH opens up the game for more 3rd party websites to sell their wares to players who are still willing to pay for digital goods with real money. I expect the game’s chat to be filled with even more spam and receive more spam friend requests.
Ultimately I think Blizzard saw that they were fighting a losing battle with the auction house and if they really wanted to make a continued profit from the franchise they would be better served by making the best expansion(s) possible and hope it sells like hotcakes than to rely on a touchy feature like the auction house, which has already caused severe damage to the Diablo franchise and polarized its fan-base.